Learn to play Even Flow by Pearl Jam on guitar the right way

Pearl Jam
(Image credit: Mick Hutson/Redferns)

Today we have a mammoth guitar lesson for you; looking at both Stone Gossard and Mike McCready’s parts to Even Flow from Pearl Jam’s classic 1991 debut album Ten. 

Get the tones 

Funny Little Boxes

(Image credit: Future)

Stone used a Les Paul (you'll want to use a bridge humbucker) and Mike used a Strat. They both used cranked Marshalls with Tube Screamers for the most part, so if you have any Maarshall-in-a-box overdrive pedal that will get you in the zone. 

For Stone I’m using the Funny Little Boxes 1991 with a hint of reverb. For Mike you need wah, distortion and delay so pick your favourites! I’ve gone for the Empress Heavy, GFI System Digital Delay and Jam Pedals Wahcko

Mike also switches between neck and bridge pickup throughout and has two different delay settings - a slapback (about 150ms delay) for the verses and one in time with the track (about 570ms with 4 or 5 repeats) for the fills/solo. 


Mike is in standard tuning (yay!) but Stone is in open D so you’ll need to tune down four of your strings as below;

E down to D

A stays the same

D stays the same

G down to F#

B down to A

E down to D

D / A / D/ F# / A / D

The original studio recording is actually a bit sharp, but fear not, I have a play along above that I pitch corrected if you fancy playing along. But first, the full video lesson…  

Lesson and technique tips 

For Stone you need to be loose and funky! There’s plenty of dynamics at play throughout and it’s a great study in embellishing rhythmic parts with slides, open notes, muted strings and palm muting. 

Mike veers off with some lovely pentatonic licks in the verse fills/solo, whammy dips in the chorus and for me, his best lick ever in the chorus, so don’t over bend that part! Have fun! 

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Matt Webster

Matt spends his spare time teaching guitar lessons and creating gear demos on his YouTube channel Let's Play All, which covers all manner of styles, but he does have a special place in his heart for '90s grunge and alt rock.